Published:  12:19 AM, 29 November 2018

The six books shortlisted for the DSC prize

The six books shortlisted for the DSC prize

1. No Presents Please by Jayant Kaikini Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana 

About the book 

Jayant Kaikini's compassionate gaze takes in the people in the corners of the city, the young woman yearning for love, the certified virgin who must be married off again, the older woman and her medicines; Tejaswini Niranjana's translations bring the rhythms of Kannada into English with admirable efficiency. This is a Bombay book, a Mumbai book, a Momoi book, a Mhamai book, and it is not to be missed. - Jerry Pinto. 

No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories is not about what Mumbai is, but what it enables. Here is a city where two young people decide to elope and then start nursing dreams of different futures, where film posters start talking to each other, where epiphanies are found in keychains and thermos-flasks. From Irani cafes to chawls, old cinema houses to reform homes, Jayant Kaikini seeks out and illuminates moments of existential anxiety and of tenderness. In these sixteen stories, cracks in the curtains of the ordinary open up to possibilities that might not have existed, but for this city where the surreal meets the everyday. 

About the author 

Jayant  Kaikini is a Kannada poet, short story writer and dramatist who has won the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi prize four times. He has also written regular newspaper columns, screenplays, dialogues and lyrics for Kannada films. 

About the translator 

Tejaswini  Niranjana is an Indian professor, cultural theorist, translator and author. She specialises in culture studies, gender studies, translation and ethnomusicology, particularly relating to different forms of Indian music. She has an M.A. in English and Aesthetics from the University of Bombay, an MPhil in Linguistics from the University of Pune and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently professor of cultural studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Tejaswini Niranjana is a Sahitya Akademi prize-winning translator. 

2. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie 

About the book  

Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother's death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can't stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London - or their brother, Parvaiz, who's disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. 

Then Eamonn enters the sisters' lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to - or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz's salvation? Two families' fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love? 

A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles' Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide - confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.  
About the author  

Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels, which have been translated into over 20 languages. Home Fire won the Women's Prize for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and long listed for the Man Booker Prize; Burnt Shadows was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction; and A God in Every Stone was shortlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction and the DSC prize. Three of her other novels (In the City by the Sea, Kartography, Broken Verses) have received awards from the Pakistan Academy of Letters. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and one of Granta's 'Best of Young British Novelists', she grew up in Karachi, and now lives in London. 

3. Miss Laila Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph 

About the book 

A building collapses in Mumbai. In the debris is a man who is mumbling something in delirium. It appears that he is passing on the real-time movements of a young Muslim couple. Elsewhere, a young intelligence agent is assigned to shadow two terror suspects, one of whom is a teenager and the sweetheart of her street, Laila. Taking up a slice of recent history, the novel glares at the entire system - not just politicians, the bureaucracy, the police and lackeys, but also the good folks. Pervasive in its satire, wicked in its humour and broad-based in its canvas, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous is one of the most stylish and honest works of fiction about India ever written. 
About the author 

Manu Joseph is one of the finest authors writing in English in India today. His previous books, Serious Men and The Illicit Happiness of Other People, published by HarperCollins India, pushed the envelope in the genre of literary fiction in terms of both structure and content, garnered rave reviews, and won and were nominated for several national and international awards. 

4. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

About the book

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, two young people notice one another. They share a cup of coffee, a smile, an evening meal. They try not to hear the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions. 

Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. Someday soon, the time will come for this young couple to seek out one such door: joining the multitudes fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world. 

From the Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist comes a journey crossing borders and continents, into a possible future. Exit West is a love story from the eye of the storm. It is a song of hope and compassion. It reaches towards something essential in humankind - something still alive, still breathing, an open hand and a thudding heart under all the rubble and dust. 

About the author 

Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for The New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and is the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Discontent and its Civilizations. Born and mostly raised in Lahore, he has since lived between Lahore, London and New York.  

5. A State Of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee 

About the book 

What happens when one attempts to exchange the life one is given for something better? Can we transform the possibilities we are born into? A State of Freedom prises open the central, defining events of our century-displacement and migration-but not as you imagine them. Five characters, in very different circumstances-from a domestic cook in Mumbai to a vagrant and his dancing bear, and a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city-find out the meanings of dislocation, and the desire for more. 
 
Moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel of multiple narratives-formally daring, fierce but full of pity delivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life. 

About the author 

Neel Mukherjee is the author of two novels, A Life Apart (2010), which won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for best novel, and The Lives of Others (2014), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Costa Best Novel Award, and won the Encore Prize for best second novel. He lives in London. 

6.  Harilal & Sons by Sujit Saraf 

About the book 

It is the year 1899. In the northwestern corner of British India, the Chhappaniya famine stalks the desert region of Shekhavati. A despairing shopkeeper turns to his young son and says, 'This land has nothing to offer us but sand dunes and khejra bushes.' Soon after, twelve-year-old Harilal Tibrewal, recently married to eleven-year-old Parmeshwari, sets off, alone, for the densely populated plains of Bengal in eastern India- travelling on camelback and by bus, train and boat to arrive in Calcutta, two thousand kilometres away… 

In his new novel, Sujit  Saraf takes readers on an epic journey from Shekhavati in Rajasthan to the Calcutta of the early twentieth century, to Bogra in East Bengal, and to a village in Bihar in newly independent India. A sprawling, compulsively readable narrative, it follows the story of Harilal as he sets up Harilal & Sons, a shop selling jute, cotton, spices, rice, cigarettes and soap, that grows into a large enterprise.

It is also the sweeping tale of his two wives and ever-burgeoning family of sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren-the two strands of family and business inextricably fused because a Marwari's life is defined by what he 'deals in'. The novel ends in 1972, as eighty-five-year-old Hari lies dying in the great mansion that he built but never actually lived in. Surrounded by his vast family he wonders why he is still so attached to them. Why has he not reached the third stage in life, the stage of detachment, that his schoolmaster had said he would? 

Spanning seven decades of an era that saw great tumult in India and Bangladesh, Harilal & Sons is a wonderfully evocative, powerful and capacious narrative-overflowing with a profusion of characters, events and places-contained within the singular life of one man who 'dealt in jute and grain'. 

About the author 

Sujit Saraf received an engineering degree from IIT Delhi and a Ph.D. from Berkeley. He has conducted research for NASA, taught at IIT and worked as a space scientist in California. When not at his desk, he runs Naatak, an Indian theatre company in America for which he writes and directs plays and films. He is the author of The Peacock Throne, which was shortlisted for the Encore Prize in London. His third novel, The Confession of Sultana Daku, is being made into a motion picture. 

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